There are more than 400,000 survivors of lung cancer in the United States today. This November, Lung Cancer Awareness Month is dedicated to celebrating those survivors while remembering the more than 150,000 men and women who die each year from this disease.
Understanding the risk factors for lung cancer and how to best mitigate risk are essential. “Bar none, the leading cause of lung cancer is smoking, so the good news is this cancer is largely avoidable,” said Chief Medical Officer Kevin Ewanchyna, MD.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smokers are 10 to 20 times more likely to die from, or develop, lung cancer than nonsmokers.
“While smokers are more likely to develop lung cancer, it's never too late to mitigate risk,” said Ewanchyna. “People who choose to quit see immediate benefits and their chances of developing cancer will certainly diminish over time.”
Two to three months after quitting, coughing and shortness of breath decrease, and cilia (tiny hair-like structures that move mucus out of the lungs) regain their lung-cleaning ability thereby reducing the risk of infection. One year after quitting, risk of heart disease is half that of a smoker’s, and five to 15 years after quitting the lung cancer death rate is half that of a continuing smoker.
If you’re thinking about quitting, talk to your doctor today about your treatment options.
Ready to quit? Here are some useful resources:
For those with lung cancer, there are several treatments available. These include surgery to remove the cancerous tissue, chemotherapy and/or direct radiation. The extent of treatment varies based on the size and frequency of cancerous tissue. Talk with your doctor to determine the best treatment for you.
Lung Cancer Awareness Month strives to recognize that no one, regardless of the choices they make, deserves lung cancer. So this month, take a moment to celebrate the survivors and honor the thousands of men and women who have lost their lives fighting this silent and deadly killer.